WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

June 22, 2007, In Durham, NC we had a brief wind storm with rain and I think possibly some snow flurries. Could the snow flurries have been unformed hail that usually comes with summer storms? I needed to have an informed answer before I told others what I really saw!

Posted June 23, 2007

MIKE MOSS SAYS:     Gail,     It was likely much too warm for snow over too deep a layer of the lower atmosphere, but as you noted thunderstorms do produce hail at times and they also produce a cousin of hail called graupel that can be small, lightweight and very white in color, which might lead you to think you'd seen a form of snow. Graupel actually consists of snowflakes or snow crystals that have become sufficiently covered with rime ice during their formation or descent to become white, rounded pellets. Riming is a process in which tiny supercooled water droplets freeze on contact with a surface that is at or below the freezing point, retaining to some degree their spherical shapes and thus trapping air and resulting in a layer of whitish ice, often with a brittle or crumbly texture. Some other informal names for graupel include "snow pellets", "soft hail", "baby hail" and even "tapioca snow."

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